Following a right to know request, Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick’s office released documents including briefing notes and speaking points surrounding the proposed takeover.
It shows Suncorp chief executive Steve Johnston convened a meeting of Microsoft teams to explain the deal with the treasurer at 4 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon in July, the day before the takeover proposal was officially announced. to investors.
Sale “in the best interest of Queensland”
No note from the government was taken during this meeting. A source with knowledge of the discussion said it was because the treasurer had just returned that day from a business trip to North America.
In a letter to Mr Dick later in the week, Mr Johnston and Suncorp Chairman Christine McLoughlin said they welcomed the opportunity to discuss the deal and argued the sale was “in the best interests of Queensland and also in the national interest”.
“Our commitment is that the Suncorp group headquarters will remain in Queensland with a vision to create the leading insurance company, Trans-Tasman,” they said.
Last month, Mr Dick also met ANZ chairman Paul O’Sullivan and other senior staff in the treasurer’s meeting room in the William Street ‘tower of power’, and his briefing notes state that the Treasurer was “not opposed to the transaction, but the transaction must achieve an outcome in the best interests of Queensland”.
The notes point out that state laws have been changed before – requirements for the majority of directors to be Queenslanders have been dropped, for example.
But he also points out that alongside the laws were “merger documents” that included additional requirements, including “the presence of branches in specific cities and certain rural lending requirements.”
‘Pie in the Sky’
ANZ has already tried to assuage the state with a series of “commitments” from Queensland, such as allocating $35 billion over 10 years for loans. But as previously reported, sources in the financial industry think the detail is lighthearted, and it’s been compared to “a pie in the sky.”
The Queensland Treasury is looking for “practical” details, such as ANZ’s proposal to let Suncorp operate as a separate entity for three years.
Treasury questions included: “Will Suncorp bank have a separate CEO and governance structure, and what decisions will Suncorp bank be able to make independently of management and the board of directors of ANZ?
“What do you expect to happen…at the end of the transition period?” Transferring customers to ANZ? Continue under the Suncorp banking license but with a new brand? »
ANZ declined to respond specifically Financial analysis questions, but said he was looking forward “to making our case to the Queensland Government on how this acquisition will benefit the people of Queensland”.
Among ANZ Queensland’s promises is that in the first three years of the Suncorp takeover there will be no net job losses or branch closures. But ANZ has remained silent on whether its branches in Queensland can be cut simultaneously.
Queensland Financial Sector Union secretary Wendy Streets told the Financial analysis “We believe that even if the three-year commitment to Suncorp results in no net loss of jobs, ANZ will accelerate the closure of its ANZ branches.”
“There are currently about forty suburbs [or] towns where there are both Suncorp and ANZ branches and we believe those ANZs will be closed during the three-year moratorium,” she said.
“At the end of the three-year engagement, we estimate the savings will come from the back-office synergies between the two, which will ultimately mean a significant amount of job loss in Queensland as work is transferred. to the departments of ANZ Melbourne.”
She said the FSU had contacted federal and state treasurers to “either stop buying or at the very least caution against selling regarding the job security of ANZ and Suncorp.”